Law

Justice Mishra's Praise of Modi 'Impinges Upon Impartiality of Judiciary': Bar Association

On February 22, Justice Mishra termed Modi as an "internationally acclaimed visionary" and a "versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally".

New Delhi: Differences cropped up on Wednesday within the top lawyers’ associations over the statement made by Supreme Court Justice Arun Mishra praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a global judicial conference here last week.

After the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) sent a communication, signed by its President Dushyant Dave, about a ‘resolution’ signed by several members expressing anguish and concern over the statements of Justice Mishra, the general secretary Ashok Arora of the association claimed that “no resolution has been passed” as he has not signed the statement released to the media.

Hours later, Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of Bar Council of India (BCI) – the apex body regulating the lawyers – termed as “myopic mindset” the criticism of Justice Mishra by the SCBA president for his praising Modi at the ‘International Judicial Conference’ on Saturday.

On February 22, Justice Mishra was all praise for Modi and termed him as an “internationally acclaimed visionary” and a “versatile genius, who thinks globally and acts locally”.

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Another body, The Bar Association of India, also expressed concern and dismay over the use of “effusive terms of praise and adulation” by Justice Mishra for Modi, saying such a statement impinges upon the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

BAI was the first to make the critical statement on the issue and later the SCBA issued the communication on the matter which was shortly opposed by Arora.

BAI President Lalit Bhasin, who had also issued a statement on Tuesday that such act diminishes the confidence of the public as the judges of the apex court, spoke to PTI on Wednesday and said the Supreme Court deals with the matters concerning government policies and actions and its judge making laudable references about the Prime Minister sends a wrong message to the public.

The criticism of Justice Mishra by the SCBA did not go down well with the apex bar body, BCI.

“Dushyant Dave (SCBA President) by publishing an article about Justice Mishra, tried to drag Justice Mishra in an undesirable and unsavoury controversy over his speech at the international judicial conference 2020, held recently at the Supreme Court,” the BCI chairperson said in a statement.

Terming the criticism of Justice Mishra as an act of “myopic mindset”, he said that “Mishra’s speech was in the capacity of a host and he used best of words for all the guests who graced the occasion. He was not holding a court at that time”.

In a communication sent to the media, the SCBA had said, it has taken note “with a deep sense of anguish and concern”, the statement made by Justice Mishra.

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“The SCBA expresses its strong reservations of the aforesaid statement and condemns the same strongly. The SCBA believes that the independence of the judiciary is the basic structure under the Constitution of India and that such independence be preserved in letter and spirit,” the SCBA statement had said.

However, Arora said that what Dave is saying cannot be considered as a resolution as he, in the capacity as general secretary, has not sighed the communication sent to the media.

“There was no executive council or general body meeting of the Association. The President has taken an arbitrary dictatorial and irresponsible stand. He cannot speak on behalf of SCBA without calling general body meeting or meeting of the executive council on such a serious issue,” he said.

Arora told PTI that all the communication to the media is to be sent through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who is the general secretary of the SCBA.

“It is not a resolution in the eyes of law because it was not signed by me,” he said, adding that Dave has made available to media a circular which contained suggestions of only six to seven members.